Psychology Unit 1- Memory EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 23-03-14 17:03

Psychology Unit 1- Memory EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY 1

  • The effects of misleading info on accuracy of EWT- Loftus (1975)
  • Showed film of car accident. Control group- questions consistent with what they had seen e.g. how fast was the car going when it passed the stop sign? Experimental group- questions inconsistent with what they had seen e.g. how fast was the car going when it passed the barn? (when there was no barn) 17% in experimental group- seen barn. 3% control group- seen barn
  • Misleading post-event info- absorbed with original memory & now believed there was a barn
  • Lab- controlled, realistic material (but still artificial), real life- not pre-prepared. Participants subject to demand characteristics?
  • Consent (could not get fully informed consent- DECEPTION)- debriefing v. important
  • Potential psychological harm- distressting (although only minor accident and no injuries)
  • LOFTUS & ZANNI- "did you see A broken headlight?" "did you see THE broken headlight?"- 17% saw THE broken headlight, 7% saw A broken headlight
  • LOFTUS & PALMER- "how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?" smashed bumped collided contacted   smashed-highest estimates & reported seeing broken glass contacted- lowest estimates- v. minor 
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Psychology Unit 1- Memory EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY 2

Other factors affecting accuracy of EWT

  • Reconstructive memory & schema- LIST 1986
  • Made list of things expected in shoplifting scenario- asked p's to rate them in how likely to occur. Made video showing 8 shoplifting incidents- included some schema elements. Week later- recall. More likely to recall high prob. events. Often reported high prob. events not even in vid.
  • Lab- tried to make vid. realistic- not like real life- pre-prepared. Pilot study used. Consent & debrief.
  • Anxiety- LOFTUS & BURNS 1979
  • P's outside room- thought listening to real convo. Condition 1- talk of machine failure, man comes out with greasy hands & pen. Conditon 2- heated convo, breaking glass, man with blood on hands & knife. Given 50 pics- identify man. Condition 2- harder to identify man- higher levels of stress- focus on blood and knife. Christianson & Hubinette- survey of people who had witnessed bank robbery. Victims remembered more, bystanders remembered less.
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Psychology Unit 1- Memory EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY 3

Other factors affecting accuracy of EWT

  • Age of witness- POOLE & LINDSAY 2001
  • Children aged 3-8 - science demonstration at school. Parents- story to read to children at night about science demonstration with novel info. Questioned children about REAL science demonstration at school- incorporated info from story. Asked to think about where info from. Older children- more likely to realise some info was from story- younger children did not. More difficult to eliminate extraneous variables than with artifical stimuli, children- understand & pay attention, consent (parents), familiar people- parents- less susceptible to investigator effects.
  • Individual differences- TOMES & KATZ 1997
  • More likely to accept misinfo if- generally poorer recall of event, high on measures of imagery vividness, high measures of empathy.
  • General problems for research in this area
  • Lab- artificial, real life- not pre-prepared, events on film not as shocking/emotional as real life, participants may act to please experimenter, no real consequences (consequentiality), trivial details.
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Psychology Unit 1- Memory EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY 4

How to improve accuracy of EWT

  • The cognitive interview technique
  • Context Reinstatement (CR): Mentally reinstate the context of the target event. Recall scene, weather, thinking and feeling at time, preceding events.
  • Report Everything (RE): Report every detail you can recall even if it seems trivial.
  • recall from Changed Perspective (CP): Report as it would have been seen from different viewpoints, not just your own
  • recall in Reverse Order (RO): Report in different temporal orders- backwards & forwards in time.
  • Police generally use CR & RE. 
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